EF Pro Cycling’s Alex Howes Takes on 220-Mile Adventure
Alex Howes isn’t one to sit around and let things come to him. He’s a man of action. Banging away on his old truck. Clearing the trails by his house with a little hand saw. He’s a get-it-done type. So when the Garmin Dirty Kanza was cancelled, he decided he’d do a version himself. Hear from Howes below on the upcoming ride, his training plans, and how he’s going to make it home after the 220-mile journey.
What made you want to ride to Kansas from Colorado?
Well, I suppose the main reason I’m doing it is because I’ve always wanted to do it. I think every cyclist in Colorado has, at one point or another, experienced a windy day, and it’s generally blowing east. You always think, “Man, if I just pointed east and could find a way to get a ride home, I bet I could get to Kansas in three hours.” Unfortunately, I think it’s actually going to be a bit of a headwind all the way there, but we have the time, so I thought, “You know what? Why not? I’m going to ride to Kansas.”
We were supposed to be at the Dirty Kanza at this point. How much did that influence your decision to do the ride?
Well, yeah. The timing with that all worked out well. This is sort of an ode to Kanza. I mean I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that riding the Dirty Kanza was one of the coolest events I’ve done. I’d even go as far as to say that it was probably the coolest thing I did last year and one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. So to have that postponed is a huge bummer. So this is what we’re going to try and replace it with. This is just lighting a little sparkler here for Kanza.
You mentioned in an Instagram post recently that it was time to put the saw down and get back to business. What did that mean?
So I’ve been doing a lot of trail maintenance up around my house. We had a really windy winter, and it’s just downed trees all over the trails out here. I’ve been riding the new Scalpel around a lot, just enjoying it. But doing two hours’ worth of riding and three and a half hours’ worth of tree cutting, it’s not exactly focused, WorldTour level training. So I think it’s time to get back to pedaling on a more full-time basis.
Tell us more about the route. How did you pick this route, and what are the roads like?
So I went with a combination of the quietest roads I could find. I know a good portion of them, at least for the first half. Certainly eastern Colorado is a bit of a mystery to me as it is to, I’m sure, most people in the world. Not a lot of people go out there. I was also trying to find the straightest route possible because, even with taking as few corners as possible and really just straight-shooting it at one latitude, it’s still 220 miles. So that’s a long way. For people running on the metric system, that’s 355 kilometers. It’s going to be a big day in the saddle.
Again with the sort of ode to Kanza, I was shooting to find as much dirt as I could, and that was sort of a combination of wanting to grind the gravel, but also trying to find the quiet roads. Obviously I don’t know the whole route by heart, but based on Google maps, pictures and stuff, I think roughly 60-70 percent of it is going to be gravel. So certainly most of the stuff out on the plains will be gravel.
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It’s going to get pretty lonely out there isn’t it?
Yeah, I mean that’s kind of the point, trying to stay away from people as best we can. The idea and plan at the moment, and we’ll see how it pans out, is to not stop to resupply, so we’re going to have all our own food, have a water filter in case we can’t find any unattended spigots out there. I have some water crossings mapped out where we could potentially pull some stuff out but you never know how things are out there. But yeah, we’re hoping not to see anybody. That’d be great.
Are you going to do it with anyone?
Yeah. I’ve got a buddy here in Colorado who is basically at the same level of training I am, which is not a high level of training at the moment. The guy’s a wildcat. His name is Spencer Powlison. I kind of floated this idea out there, and I’d been hemming and hawing over it for a while. Then he got wind of it, and he was like, “Dude, if you do that, I’m coming with you.” And I looked at his quarantine schedule, and he’s up in the mountains as well and equally hermited up. So I thought, “All right, well, let’s make some plans here.” And yeah, we’re just going to go out and swap turns into a headwind for probably 12 or 13 hours.
How are you planning on getting home from Kansas?
So I’ve talked my lovely wife into doing the shuttle. She’s going to drive out there. She said she had to go to Target to buy some things for her school presentation, and so I was like, “Well, the border of Kansas and Colorado is only two and a half hours past Target, so you can just swing on over if that’s okay.” And she’s into it. She says as long as I put a cooler in the car, she’ll bring the cooler full of drinks and a change of clothes and meet me at the border.
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Long one tomorrow. 220 miles from my house in the Rocky Mountains to the Kansas boarder. Packing all the food for the trip and filtering water along the way. Definitely a bit nervous. Read all about it and follow along throughout the day by clicking the link in bio. @efprocycling @dirtykanza @rapha @ridecannondale #diygravel
What do you think is the first thing you’re going to want to eat when you’re done?
Oh, I imagine some sort of cold beverage will sound nice. It’s supposed to be pretty warm out there, and it’s not like we’re packing an ice maker, and we’re not stopping at gas stations for cold drinks. I think it’ll be a bit of a challenge to stay cool. I think that’s probably going to be our biggest issue. So yeah, something cold to drink will probably be much appreciated at the end there. I am going to bring a Garmin inReach Mini, and I’m going to set up a little page so you can follow us along. Part of that’s for the public, and part of that’s for my wife, in case she decides she wants to come get us earlier.
Follow Alex’s Ride – https://share.garmin.com/AlexHowes